So, lost 4 pounds in fever land. Honestly I think I'm going to miss that time where I was not feeling sick to my stomach or even bad but still wasn't hungry. Wish they could make a pill that did that.
The most insane acidentally bought a brick of heroin story you will read this week.
There's one anecdote I'll always keep with me... (in part because I noted it in my Palm journal) I was commuting on Memorial Drive one Tuesday morning in 1999, not far from that weird rotary at the end of the BU bridge, and was furious, letting myself get all road-ragey over the halted conditions. (In some ways I find it cathartic to let loose during that kind of situation, try to burn out all the irritations and frustrations of the day, but there's some real anger at the scene there as well.)
Anyway, I was ranting and raving over another driver who had pushed in to the lane by tailgating the car in front of him -- *CLEAR violation of the "alternate feeding" guidelines!*, the ones that I had faith were key to letting us all get through this mess.
The driver, who looked a bit like Detective Yemana on Barney Miller, regarded at me in his rear view mirror, took note of my fury, placed his hands on either side of his head, stuck out his tongue and waggled moose antlers. (A favored gesture of my dad, come to think of it)
I was completely disarmed. It was a perfect wordless Zen Koan, a reminder of just how seriously I should take the world and my current place in it.
Well, in a sense, Hairy One, fire is everywhere. Rather than being an object, say, like your sharp stick, it's really a process, so it can't really be said to exist anywhere. In a sense, fire exists in its own imaginary, virtual space, where we can only talk about what is not fire and what might become fire.I'd also highly recommend his "Judge John Hodgman" (I just found out about it but it has been around for almost a decade) where he and "bailiff" Jesse Thorn do a kind of People's Court thing - both hosts are so funny, kind, insightful, and well-spoken, it's a real treat.
A few weeks ago I had a small epiphany at my therapist.
May 19, 2019
The back story: my parents are officers in The Salvation Army, which (in parallel with its emergency and charity operations) is a church; a denomination called "Salvationism", a near offshoot of the Methodists that took the idea of waging a war against sin to heart, and modeled itself after a military - churches are called corps, members are called soldiers, pastors are called officers and there are uniforms, with tunics and hats and everything.
As in the military, officers get assigned to live wherever the 'Army feels their skills will be put to the best use, and so "OKs" (Officer's Kids) have to be braced for moving every few years.
So, looking back, here's roughly how I viewed the structure of authority:
I'm perched on top, the most precarious place. I am taught how I should live - and then, told WHERE I will live - by my parents. (Here represented by a home) But my parents are supported by The Salvation Army. It has the authority to tell them where to go and what to do, and they comply. The Salvation Army, then, was anchored on and drawing its authority from God. From God! Can't get much bigger than that!
I'm sure the whole "parents are your minister and representative of God" thing is another topic for therapist fun, but right now I'm thinking more about the top 3 levels; when you combine it with the Good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one attitude I think I inherited from my mom (where our personal needs should not be ignored, but weighted in the general balance for choosing best course of action), you get an especially acute sense of "the group will ask sacrifices of you, and you must make them."
As an "OK", less than average of your material life is actually owned by your family... the quarters- the assigned house (or apartment over the church in my case) - will be mostly stocked with its own furniture. Utilities and reliable transportation will be arranged for and life will otherwise be frugal, and your parents are potentially on call at all kinds of hours - especially during that Thanksgiving-Christmas "Red Kettles" season. I'm not trying to bellyache, there are plenty of worse environments to grow up in - but still, the sense of authority and chain-of-command was strong, and The Salvation Army was a calling, not just a job - for example I had a precocious and impeccable "business" phone mojo going when answering the shared line, evn as a pipsqueak elementary schooler - my folks would be commended on their extremely polite secretary.
(My family was graced with longer appointments - I was especially lucky by "OK" standards of the time to be in mostly the same place for most of middle and high school. But I was bummed about the move from Western NY to Upstate NY before third grade, and had so much adolescent resentment moving to Cleveland after sixth that I switched to going by my middle name Logan as a form of existential protest. (err, before I knew it was a "Wolverine/X-men" reference))
So, too much backstory, here is the point, and the small epiphany: So I had deeply ingrained sense of the importance of the group. Imprinted on me: Groups are manifestations of greater goods (even when they don't claim to be prayerfully reflecting God's will) and so can expect sacrifices of you. And not only of you, but of loved ones you're with! People who probably won't be directly involved with the group on a regular basis, and who may have only had been partially aware of the strength of your commitments
(and being reliable isn't just import to me in terms of my concern for my reputation in the group, but my integrity as a person - a group being angered with me for not being dependable would be awful mostly as a signpost towards me not being a dependable person. (I think. Causing someone or some group strong bad feelings because of my own "selfish" needs also does poorly on "greater good" scale, so there is a social aspect of it - not just the objective judgement of God of me, the individual potential sinner.))
So, I need to remember that groups - mostly brass bands for me these days (which actually are also kind of a gift from The Salvation Army for me, come to think of it) - aren't just asking sacrifices from me me, but of me and my presence and energy that might otherwise by my partner's. I need to be more cognizant of that.
Bonus content: it took me years to notice there was a pun/metaphor in calling the printed offering envelopes "cartridges" - these are roughly the ones I grew up with
I remember the "If you are absent, remember the Corps expenses go on just the same". The admonition was watered down a bit from this antique one of the 1800s that has further instructions in a militaristic vibe.
Ever wake up from a nap, and kind of disoriented? Your inner monologue is like "Ok... I think... I'm on a planet... called Earth? And it has... gravity? And sometimes frogs?"
Today at the Friendshipworks Walk to End Elder Isolation - a lesson in photographic perspective, and why you usually put the tuba player and the horn behind the arc not where it angles around... it kind of towers over everyone!
On my devblog, retracing some steps of archivists digging into the history of Spacewar! , the first programmed video game. I think I've finally answered a long-stand question I had about collision detection in that game.
The consolation of mortality: we can rest assured that finally - finally - upon death our personal knowledge of the big problems of the world will descend to meet our personal ability to fix the big problems of the world.
Courage is knowing it might hurt and doing it anyway.Compare with:
Stupidity is the same.
And that's why life is hard.
There is a fine line between genius and insanity; I play hopscotch.
"The unborn" are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn...You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.
Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.
And I'm as old as you! [...] Tuba - it's like the fountain of youth, but you blow into it, because that's how brass instruments work.
May 17, 2019
As I approached the elevator I heard voices. I stepped back, but as the door opened it was empty. When i got in I discovered that this was because a spambot had called the emergency elevator phone and was earnestly trying to sell it something.
"WhaaaAAAT the fuck," I said.
"I'M SORRY! I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT LAST PART!" yapped the bot.
"ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LOWERING YOUR RATES? AND DOING THE BEST THING FOR YO-"
"Oh my god cancel cancel cancel cancel jesus christ cancel you robotic shitbezel"
"OKAY, THANKS! HAVE A GOOD REST OF YOUR DAY!"
I have seen the future. It's AIs trying to sell each other various horseshit across the blasted, fungus-ridden shitscape left behind by humanity.
Fever dreams provided me this "Shower thought":
You're indirectly touching every item you've known that's not currently airborne--
a chain that passes from you through your clothes to the furniture to the floor to the yard to... everything. The shoulder of your first love. Your elementary school. The grave of your great great grandparents. Whatever existed in whatever form it still exists.
[] Today I was reminded of George Beker's robot cartoons (as seen in Creative Computing's 1978 book 101 BASIC Computer Games.)
May 16, 2019
You can go to BekerBots.com and for $10 download "The Bot Folio", which is just the comics plus some director's commentary, and a few bonus drawings...
You can't make an omelette without hurling eggs at full force into a metal pail placed 8 feet awa-- wait, how do you make omelettes again?
Wired's cover story is a terrific piece by programmer and CEO Paul Ford, Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry.
May 15, 2019
I probably started at nearly the same place as him: just getting online in the last great days of Usenet (he references the September That Never Ended) and, not coincidentally at the same time Wired magazine was starting up. It reads like he had a lot more ambition and less fixed mindset than I do, pushing into higher levels of less hands-on activity while I've been content in my role of making small things (and sometimes helping others make things) without needing to decide what everyone should be making. The article is a love letter to people who were building stuff on the early Internet, back when everyone needed their own "homepage".
It also points to how the techno-utopian vision didn't pan out. In particular some of the challenges in terms of inclusivity people trying to climb on this gravy train face:
I keep meeting people out in the world who want to get into this industry. Some have even gone to coding boot camp. They did all the exercises. They tell me about their React apps and their Rails APIs and their page design skills. They've spent their money and time to gain access to the global economy in short order, and often it hasn't worked.I think his attitude is good, and I hear him echoing this quote from Neal Stephenson's 1992 work Snow Crash:
I offer my card, promise to answer their emails. It is my responsibility. We need to get more people into this industry.
But I also see them asking, with their eyes, "Why not me?"
And here I squirm and twist. Because--because we have judged you and found you wanting. Because you do not speak with a confident cadence, because you cannot show us how to balance a binary tree on a whiteboard, because you overlabored the difference between UI and UX, because you do not light up in the way that we light up when hearing about some obscure bug, some bad button, the latest bit of outrageousness on Hacker News. Because the things you learned are already, six months later, not exactly what we need. Because the industry is still overlorded by people like me [...]
It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.Anyway. As my own blog gets to the end of its second decade, Paul Ford reminds me of how lucky I've been, and continue to be, coming into techie adulthood during such a time of flourishing new ideas.
It reminds me of that old Douglas Adams thought-
That's where I am! Lets see how I manage to surf a rising tide of ageism - kind of hoping to scrape some kind of retirement together to coast into shore by that point.
- everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal;
- anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
- anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
Oh hey terrific. Striking down the Voter Rights Act, breaking the constitution by by holding a Supreme Court seat til conditions were favorable, Gov Brian Kemp "overseeing" an election he was running -- there's a bunch of landmarks to see while GOP gets set for decades of white minority rule.
Oy. Came down with something flu-ish. Is it kind of weird that I'm a grown-ass man who doesn't know if fever reducers like Tylenol and Advil will significantly delay recovery? I mean, a body doesn't set up a fever for its health - err, except in the literal sense, I guess - so if I can tough out some shivers and aches by just lying here, is that the best path, don't mess with the body trying to to sous-vide its way to health?
(Only yesterday did I realize, if I took some fever reducers, I shouldn't then be relying on a thermometer reading as a gauge of how sick I am...)
I feel that even a person of faith could look at, say, Psalm 139:13 ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb") or Job 10 and accept that there's uncertainty if souls are jammed in there - KAPOW! - when sperm meets egg (in which case, I guess a 6 week old thing the size of a snowpea could carry one along?) or if forming a soul/molding a person is something God + mother's do over time. Since there's potential ambiguity even for people who are convinced the Bible is the protected Word of God, principles of letting the people who bear almost all of the cost of molding decide - i.e. women and respecting their bodily autonomy - needs to win out.
I'm not convinced of the feasibility of changing anyone's heart and mind - and that of their tribe - through words on a screen, but a strict "My Body, My Choice" line is going to be talking right past believers (or even humanists) who counter "Abortion is Murder!!!!" - who might not be realizing they are implying they KNOW that the soul or personhood is an instantaneous appearance vs a process that can be stopped before life / soulness has been achieved. "Souls get knit, they don't just pop" might have more traction, or at least acknowledge that abortion banners think they're heroically saving people.
Sorry if this is too much of a "both sideser" style argument. To be clear I am firmly pro-choice. But when people do attempt to examine the assumptions behind their firm beliefs, I think that's the only way progress can be made.
(I am also not sure it's reasonable to grant benefit of the doubt to people breaking legislative procedure to make these bills happen, that they are solely (or soul-ly) motivated by "saving kids")